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What Are Deepfakes And Why Are They Dangerous?

Deepfake is a type of artificial intelligence created by combining the phrases deep learning and fake that facilitates in developing videos that have been fabricated via using deep learning techniques. It is a subset of AI that refers to algorithms that can learn and make intelligent judgments without human intervention. A deep-learning system can create convincing impersonations by examining images and videos of a target person from various perspectives and then copying their behavior and voice patterns. Once a prototype fake has been created, GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) are used to make it more credible. The GANs method aims to find faults in the system and make adjustments to fix them.

How can you stay away from deepfake videos?

  1. Deepfake videos are much simpler to spot than deepfake photographs. And you may accomplish so with the assistance of two factors. When a deepfake video of a person is created, for example, there is little difference between the person and the backdrop. However, you may spot a false video if the attention is solely on the face in the video and the surrounding is purposefully obscured.
  2. Deepfake can be easily avoided by restricting personal images on social media and avoiding close-up photos of your face as much as possible.
  3. Advanced artificial intelligence algorithms are under development which can swiftly identify deepfake videos thereby preventing people from falling prey to fake news and fake films.

When and where did deepfake start?

Deep Fake was a user on Reddit in 2017 who began employing face modification technology for pornography. It was from here that the term Deepfake was coined, and videos like this were known as Deepfake Videos. 

Deepfake as a boon to technology

MyHeritage, a software program, has been in the headlines for transforming any image into a 10-second movie. With this app, you may also breathe new life into old images using this program. With the use of this program, images of prominent personalities from past were transformed into movies. And these films show that if Artificial Intelligence is applied correctly, this approach may be beneficial to humans.

Deepfake as a threat to humanity

A.  Deepfakes were used to subvert democracy in the United States 

Facebook decided to prohibit the use of deep fakes after fake videos of politicians began spreading on social media. They allowed a few loopholes, such as the ability to keep sarcastic films and photos, but distinguishing between satire and agenda-driven content is difficult.

B.  Deepfakes began to be exploited by internet predators 

People began leveraging the ability to substitute anyone's face in an image or video to make pornographic content without their consent. As the deep fake technology allows them to do so by replacing face and expressions; all cybercriminals need is a profile photograph on social media to produce fake material to produce fake videos.

C.  Deepfake to tarnishing reputation of individuals 

A Pennsylvania mom, for example, was prosecuted for harassing cheerleaders at her daughter's school by employing deep fakes. The mother used manipulated recordings to carry out a cyberbullying campaign against girls she viewed as competitors to her daughter.

Deepfakes still continues pushing the digital media envelope where researchers suggest using NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) is the most effective strategy to combat deep fake. But NFTs, on the other hand, are still far away from being the standard on blockchains like Ethereum.

To know more about various cyber threats and methods to prevent them, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375-9654.

All You Need To Know About Zero-Day Attacks

Zero-Day also mentioned as 0-Day indicates that the vendor or developer has very recently got to know about that flaw. Since the hackers have exploited the flaw before developers can discover & patch it, the Vendor has Zero Days to fix it. Some meaningful terms to understand 0-Day better:

  1. 0-Day Vulnerability is discovered by hackers before the developers and hence they cannot be patched. However, developers can implement and notify workaround techniques to temporarily address it.
  2. 0-Day Exploits are the TTPs (Tactics-Techniques-Procedures) used by hackers to attack IT infrastructure.
  3. 0-Day Attack involves using 0-Day Exploit targetting 0-Day Vulnerability inflicting damage to IT resources.

Cybercriminals and hacktivists with malicious intentions such as espionage and theft, financial gains, cyber warfare, service disruption, and likewise usually carry out such 0-Day attacks. Its victims could be anyone and everyone across the globe ranging from an individual to an organization and even a nation-state. Operating systems and software applications, hardware and firmware, IoT (Internet of Things) devices, household appliances, automobiles are the usual targets. Attacks carried out against potentially valuable targets such as MNCs (Multi-National Companies), government and intelligence agencies, or VVIPs (Very Very Important Persons) are targeted 0-Day attacks. Vulnerable systems-servers or applications and hardware are the usual victims of non-targeted 0-Day attacks. Sometimes the LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies) are unable to comprehend the collateral damage caused by attackers.

Zero-Day exploits are considered the ultimate cyber weapon to inflict heavy and often irreparable damage. Poor cybersecurity hygiene, ignorance & lethargy of security professionals, inadequate budgets, skill gaps in the availability of skilled and qualified cybersecurity workforce are some of the reasons behind getting victimized by a 0-Day vulnerability. When victims get to know about a 0-Day vulnerability in their environment, it is often too late to mitigate them. The course of action is to either accept the risk and threats of attack(s) or shut down the crucial components/facilities of their operations and services.

So, how would you try to protect yourself, as much as possible, from getting affected by the 0-Day exploits?

Prevention is however almost impossible for 0-Day vulnerabilities but detection and mitigation strategies are still relevant here. 4 proactive and protective best practices might help you and your firm stay resilient against most 0-Day attacks: -

  1. Educate and be aware against social engineering: Employees and business partners need to understand the bigger picture of business risk. Everyone must take moral ownership to keep the business services and daily operations safe & secure in their individual capacities. User awareness training must be conducted to prevent the staff from getting targeted by social engineering attacks. 
  2. Implement 2FA / MFA with biometrics: Deploy 2FA (2-Factor Authentication) and MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) along with biometric locks will keep unauthorized users or hackers at bay. It is advised to periodically change the credentials used to access the various digital resources across your organization. Modify and update the vendor-supplied default security configuration to customize as per the business requirements. 
  3. Strict ACL (Access Control List): Be vigilant when you grant any user the read and/or write access or elevate their privileges from user to admin and likewise. Grant or assign the privileges or access on a Need-to-Know basis only.! Deploying an appropriate IAM (Identity and Access Management) plan prevents accidental information modification from unauthorized employees. It also limits the scope of access for hackers having stolen the employees’ credentials. Implement a systematic de-provisioning process for employees leaving the company so their access to the IT systems, applications, and data is curtailed. Revoking the access rights of someone who has left the organization is very much a crucial security responsibility that must be completed on the LWD (Last Working Day) & not get delayed. 
  4. Depth-in-defense & defense-in-depth approches: Maintaining your organization’s credibility in the market is very important. Comply with various regulatory standards & frameworks to protect highly sensitive business information. The in-house SOC (Security Operations Center) team can monitor the real-time activities of users, services, and applications in your IT environment. Alternatively, to facilitate inadequate budgets & lack of resources, you can hire an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider). They help you to outsource your security logging & monitoring requirements. They prevent, detect, analyze, & mitigate security risks, threats, vulnerabilities, & incidents for your business. Protect your data & devices with various security solutions such as NGAVs (Next-Gen Anti-Virus), DLP (Data Loss Prevention), XDR (Extended Detection and Response), Honeypot, and likewise. Training and securing your users and employees would give hackers a hard time targeting your IT infrastructure with 0-Day vulnerabilities. 

Centex Technologies provides a variety of cybersecurity solutions to companies. For a free audit of your enterprise's IT systems, call (855) 375-9654.

What Is A Fuzzing Attack?

Fuzzing is a software testing technique which is used to find implementation bugs that can be hacked by using malformed/semi-malformed data injection in an automated fashion. The data injection consists of different permutations of data that are fed into target program until one of these permutations reveals a vulnerability that can be exploited by the cyber criminals.

A fuzzer may try different combinations of attacks on:

  • Numbers (signed or unsigned integers, floats, etc.)
  • Characters (urls, command line inputs, etc.)
  • Metadata (user input text such as id3 tag)
  • Pure Binary Sequences

The most common approach for a fuzzing attack is to define a list of ‘fuzz vectors’ (known to be dangerous values) for each type and inject these vectors or their recombination into the program.

Here is a list of common fuzz vectors:

  • For Integers: Zero, possibly negative or very big numbers
  • For Chars: Escaped, interpretable characters / instructions (ex: For SQL Requests, quotes / commands…)
  • For Binary: Random ones
  • For Chars: Escaped, interpretable characters / instructions (ex: For SQL Requests, quotes / commands…)

Types Of Fuzzing Attacks:

Application Fuzzing: A web application fuzzer tests for buffer overflow conditions, error handling issues, boundary checks, and parameter format checks. Irrespective of the type of system to be fuzzed, the attack vectors are in it’s Input or Output system. Attack vectors for a desktop app are:

  • The UI (testing all the buttons sequences / text inputs)
  • The command-line options
  • The import/export capabilities

In case of a web app, attack vectors can be found in urls, forms, user-generated content, RPC requests, etc.

Protocol Fuzzing: To launch a protocol fuzzing attack, a fuzzer sends forged packets to the tested application and eventually acts as a proxy to modify requests sent to the server and replay them to find a vulnerability.

File Format Fuzzing: In a file format fuzzing attack, the fuzzer generates multiple malformed samples and opens them in a sequence. When the program crashes, the sample is kept for further investigation. Using a file format fuzzing attack, hackers can attack-

  • The Parser Layer (Container Layer): These attacks target file format constraints, structure, conventions, field sizes, flags, etc.
  • The Codec/Application Layer: These are lower-level attacks which aim at the program’s deep rooted information.

Centex Technologies provide complete IT security solution to clients. For more information, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.              

How To Protect Organization's Data?

Protecting data is one of the top priorities for an organization as data theft can lead to leaked user credentials, financial loss, etc., among other notable damages. Cybersecurity teams of an organization need to be proactive in protecting the organization’s data to prevent the repercussions.

Here are five data protection steps to protect your business:

  • Identify What Needs To Be Protected: When formulating a data protection strategy, it is first important to know what you are protecting. There might be some hidden or lost assets connected to the organization’s network. Employ an IT asset management system and run a discovery of organization’s environment to identify every asset that can be a potential source of vulnerability. Additionally, be aware of any software downloaded by employees on their devices and keep a track of shadow IT. Shadow IT on home computers or remote devices used by employees may pose a threat as these are not managed by IT team of organization. IT teams need to learn about software being used by employees and how to protect it.
  • Patch & Update: Installing latest updates helps to keep a software protected as the updates contain patches to any vulnerabilities present in previous versions. Unpatched vulnerabilities are a significant problem. A study has indicated that unpatched vulnerabilities account for approximately 60% of all data breaches. Create a well-defined policy to evaluate and schedule updates and patches. This helps in minimizing downtime and increasing protection.
  • Review The Tools: Efficient integration of information security tools such as antivirus, firewalls, and IDP/IPS into systems can improve data protection. Another important factor is to scale the protection as per the environment, for example consumer grade antivirus software used for securing a home computer would not be effective in case of an organization’s network. Organizations can monitor their environment using a SIEM tool aided by 24/7 security operations center.
  • Spread Security Awareness: The famous Colonial Pipeline data breach was most likely caused by a phishing email. Employees may act as an entry point for a malware and are often targeted by cyber criminals by sending phishing emails or messages. Phishing emails are designed to look more realistic and the sender’s address is usually spoofed to look like a co-worker’s. It is important to educate employees to be able to identify phishing signs and take the required steps. Organize cybersecurity training at every level of hierarchy to keep employees updated about changing cybersecurity protocols.

Centex Technologies assists organizations in identifying their cybersecurity needs and provides services to strengthen the IT security of its clients. To know more about ways to protect an organization’s data, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

The History Of Ransomware

A ransomware is a malicious program that infects a target device and gains control. The program encrypts files and blocks the user access to the infected data (or system) until the targeted organization pays the ransom to the attackers. Although the instances of ransomware attacks have gained momentum lately, it is actually a primitive cybersecurity threat.

Here is a brief account of history of ransomware:

  • First Ransomware: The first known ransomware attack was recorded in 1989. The attack was carried out by Joseph Popp, an AIDS researcher. He distributed 20,000 floppy disks containing a malicious program to AIDS researchers across 90 countries. He made pretence that the floppy disks contained a survey program. It was a basic ransomware attack and since then ransomware attacks have evolved and have acquired an array of advanced features.
  • Locker Ransomware: In 2007, a new category of ransomware malware appeared. It was known as Locker Ransomware. This type of ransomware did not encrypt files; instead it locked the victim out of the device preventing him from using it. Another ransomware that operated on this technique is known as WinLock. The ransomware employed worms such as Citadel, Lyposit, and Reveton for displaying a fine message from a law enforcement agency. The ransomware demanded $10 as ransom in exchange for the unlocking code.
  • Scareware: After a few years, the attackers changed their strategy. They started capitalizing on the fear of ransomware by spreading fake applications and antivirus programs. In these types of ransomware attacks, the malicious applications attack a target device and display a pop up message saying that the device has been infected with viruses. The message encourages the victim to visit a website and pay for antivirus software for fixing the problem. The link mentioned in the message redirects the user to a malicious website designed to look authentic and legitimate. After a few years, cyber criminals understood that they can compromise any website instead of designing fake websites. They switched to automated ransomware attacks the included phishing emails as vectors.
  • Crypto Ransomware: In 2013, first cryptographic ransomware emerged. It was known as CryptoLocker. It was launched by Gameover ZeuS bot and was sent as an email attachment. Once downloaded, the ransomware encrypted the files on the device and demanded a bitcoin payment for unlocking the files.
  • Ransomware-As-A-Service: It is the latest step in the evolution of ransomware. It first appeared in 2015 with the Tox toolkit launch. This gave beginner cybercriminals a chance to develop custom ransomware tools with advanced capabilities.

Centex Technologies offers cybersecurity solutions to businesses. For more information on, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

What Is SQL Injection Attack?

SQL injection (SQLi) attacks exploit existing vulnerabilities to alter SQL queries by injecting malicious code. If successful, SQL injection attacks can allow the cyber attackers to modify database information, access sensitive data, execute administrator tasks on the database, and recover files from the target system. In extreme cases, attackers can also issue commands to the database operating system.

In order to defend against SQL injection attacks, it is imperative to understand the working of the attack.

How Does A SQL Injection Attack Work?

Cyber criminals may use several different types of SQL injections to execute an attack. Here are some common variants of SQL injections:

  • SQL Injection Based On User Input: In this type of SQL attack, the user inputs are used to inject malicious code and gain access to the system. Web applications accept user inputs via forms. The information collected by these forms is then passed on to the database for processing. If the web application server does not screen the forms, the attacker can inject SQL statements via user input form fields and delete, copy, or modify the contents of the database.
  • SQL Injection Based On Cookies: In this approach to SQL injection, the cookies are modified to infect database queries. Web applications often load cookies to use data stored in them as part of database operations. The malicious users or a malware installed on the system can modify the cookies to inject SQL statement in the backend database. Once infected, cyber attackers can access the database to steal, modify or delete the data stored in the database.
  • SQL Injection Based On HTTP Headers: Some web applications are designed to accept inputs from HTTP headers. In such cases, malicious actors create fake headers containing arbitrary SQL statements. When the web application accepts input from these fake HTTP headers, the malicious code is injected into the database.
  • Second Order SQL Injection: These are most complex SQL injection attacks because they are designed in a way that allows the SQL code to lie dormant in the system for a long time.

What Is The Impact Of SQL Injection Attacks?

SQL injection attacks can cause various harms to the victim system:

  • Steal user credentials resulting in identity theft.
  • Access information stored in database server.
  • Alter or add new information to infected database.
  • Delete database records leading to DoS attacks.

 For more information on SQL injection attack, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.